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Dolan, Colman, Mulloy & Harris: On the dock in Dieppe

Published on 26/06/2019

The thoughts of some of the International skippers on reaching Dieppe and the conclusion of the 50th La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro.

Will Harris, GBR, 22nd (HIVE Energy): “It is a relief it is over. I am sure in a week I will be missing it,” commented Harrris. “It seems that on this edition you could not predict anything and the results go up and down like they did on that leg. I do seem to be able to keep a level head on the boat. That is important. On day 2 I was leading and then suddenly you are back in the back of the fleet. I was happy get the lead as I sailed into it with a tactical decision. I am happy I seem to be fast. When it is not fluky as hell I am happy I can compete. I don’t seem to have had the luck to pull an overall result through. It is hard to keep up with these good guys. I have spent a lot of time in the boat and have taken from what the others do and that has sped up my processes. In offshore racing it is all about experience. The Solitaire is always harder than you expect. Last night I was sitting there thinking ‘why am I here. I have just lost the entire fleet of boats…’ And then here I am, you want to be back doing it again just as soon as it is finished.”

Tom Dolan, IRL, 25th (Smurfit Kappa): “I feel good and bad. I was fairly happy with the start to be honest. It was a good first night, we were screaming along, I was with the lead group. Then I completely messed up at the south of England after Wolf Rock. Then everything was all over the place, we fell backwards to the back of the fleet. Then I took a little chance on the race course. We were okay along the coast and we were with the lead group until we got done at Owers mark. The wind came in from the north and then we struggled to make it back up.” Assessing his race overall, Dolan concludes: “It was hard, when there was wind I seemed to figure it out. But it was a particularly hard race. I’m a bit disappointed with the results. I’m learning, I’m getting there. It’s my second solitaire. I could’ve done with more rest days before the start of it, more preparation - physical and mental - so I was more rested. It’s hard to gauge where I really am in the fleet, but at least I’m not plenty of miles behind everyone, there was plenty of times in the races where I was up there with the best and I had a hell of a speed so that’s quite positive.”

Conrad Colman NZL, 26th (Ethical Power): “The last leg was horrible. particularly because the whole last leg summarised the entire La Solitaire Le Figaro which meant that it was crazy restarts, insane calms…. so it’s just frustrating because we didn’t know what was going to be happening around the corner and whatever you expected to happen didn’t happen. Sometimes that played to my benefit but sometimes I got crushed. I made up good miles on people in the middle of the leg and then I got pooched at the end. But overall it was a good learning opportunity. I reckon I got what I came here for, which was to get the rust knocked off me because I haven’t done that much solo sailing recently so this was absolutely a baptism by fire. It was about learning a new boat and learning a new fleet and a new way of sailing and a new approach and that’s what I wanted and that’s what I got. As much as I’m disappointed with how the last leg ended up, I’m happy with the project overall and I think it’s a tick box ticked. I was up there sometimes jus not where it counted which is when the stop watch says stop.

It’s pretty inspiring to have sailed up there at the same pace as the others because that’s definitely what you take forward. It shows that at some points, not yet sufficiently reliably, I can sail with the best and that’s pretty exciting because we have the same boats, so if I can do that it’s exciting to see what I’m capable of next time I’m up with a prototype fleet. It’s a work in progress.”

Joan Mulloy, IRL, 40th (Believe in Grace/Businesspost.ie): “ I’m very tired and very happy - this probably prevented me from quitting sailing and opening a cafe.

Not quite that bad but after the first few legs I really felt like I’d taken such a hammering. I hadn’t really prepared properly for the Solitaire but I felt like on top of that, I had been dealt a load of bad luck and I didn’t deal well with the luck I was given. I was feeling like it was all so unfair.

I feel like I made some good decisions and I found a nice rhythm and that was really nice. Part of me wouldn’t mind another 3 legs now it’s done - in three weeks time maybe.

When you feel you have accumulated so much - the Solitaire is one of those races that you learn so much intensely with a sail. It’s hard to process it all.

I don’t know how many days I’ve sailed, I’ve just sailed for 16 days but 16 days of non stop for hours in a row and you learn so much about yourself. You almost want to stop and have a little moment to think and then go again.”

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